After putting up 60 runs in six games in Spokane, the Eugene Emeralds’ offense fell off a cliff Tuesday night.
They didn’t have a baserunner until the sixth inning, and didn’t record a hit until the seventh. They made a late two-out comeback attempt in the ninth, but the game ended with Sean Roby being thrown out at the plate. They fell 3-2 in the first game of their six-game series against the Hillsboro Hops.
After pitching a perfect first inning, Eugene starter Conner Nurse gave up a leadoff double in the second. But he got out of it, going on to get through four scoreless innings.
The Hops finally struck first in the fifth with back-to-back doubles against Nurse. The next pitch he threw was then hammered over the shed in right field, giving the Hops a 3-0 lead.
The Emeralds faced off against 2019 first-round draft pick Blake Walston, and could barely touch him. He set down the first 15 batters with seven strikeouts. The game cruised along faster than any game has all season for Eugene.
Franklin Labour finally broke the perfect game with a leadoff walk in the sixth, but the Emeralds still didn’t have a hit.
Brett Auerbach ended the no-hit bid in the seventh, blasting one over the left-center field wall for a solo homer. Just like that, the no-hitter and the shutout were gone as Eugene trailed 3-1.
The Emeralds showed signs of life as the red-hot Heath Quinn, fresh off being named the High-A West Player of the Week, singled with two outs in the eighth. Carter Aldrete drew a full count in a tough battle, but ultimately struck out, slamming his helmet on the ground in frustration as the inning came to an end.
John Russell provided three scoreless innings in relief for Eugene with a trio of strikeouts, whie Ryan Walker pitched a perfect ninth.
The first two Emeralds made outs in the ninth. But Armani Smith kept them alive with a single, and Roby blooped one into left field that dropped for a double to put the tying runs in scoring position.
It all came down to Tyler Fitzgerald, who singled to left field. Smith scored, but Roby was thrown out at home by a mile to end the game.
The game lasted just two hours and 29 minutes, the fastest nine-inning game for the Emeralds all season.
The Emeralds will look to bounce back in Game 2 of the series on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.